As sports fans around the world gain more ways to view, interact with, and support their favourite teams, forward-thinking stadia operators are upgrading their venues’ audiovisual technologies to create memorable experiences, deliver deeper fan engagement,and drive merchandise sales. From large-scale LED videowalls that show live footage, replays and stats, to audio systems that use more than 3,000 speakers to reach every single fan, here are five ways stadia are using the latest technologies to keep US, UK, and European sports fans excited about the gameday experience.
Making Every Seat The Perfect Seat
London’s new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the world’s first venue specially-designed with bespoke accomodation for two sports, where both Premiere League football and American NFL football games are equally at home, according to the NFL’s UK managing director. In addition to an innovative retractable grass pitch on top of an artificial turf pitch, the stadium is home to the largest digital screens in western Europe and more than 3,900 speakers, delivering unparalleled video and audio to spectators. Both the interior and exterior of the stadium are home to digital canvases, with two 325-square-metre LED displays in the interior’s South Stand and two 191-square-metre models in the North Stand, while the exterior’s South West and South East facades each feature a 179-square-metre LED screen.To match the visual experience, the stadium’s audio system fills every square metre with loud, clear audio producedby thousands of high-end speakers and more than 50 subwoofers, powered by 140 amplifiers. The extensive AV system creates a more engaging fan experience, and takes cues from stadium designs found in new American football venues. Daniel Levy, Chairman ofthe Tottenham Hotspur, told ESPN, “We are driven to make this the most technologically advanced stadium anywhere.
Flipping the Script With a Rotating Display
At England’s Carrow Road stadium, home of Norwich City Football, a new45-square-metre high-resolution display is wowing football fans with its ability to rotate from landscape to portrait orientation, and spin 360-degrees, creating maximum impact and reaching every spectator.The display starts each day in portrait mode to display stats, news, player profiles and team lineups, with player images displayed at a height of nine metres. Ahead of kick-off, the screen rotates to traditional landscape orientation, allowing fans to follow the match and view replays throughout the game. During key moments, such as goal replays, the display can be turned quickly from side-to-side to face any seating section, allowing every spectator to see it. It’s so popular that fans even gave it a name, “Screeny McScreenface”, in reference to the 2016 internet naming contest for a new scientific research submarine that resulted in “Boaty McBoatface”
“The new screen adds huge value to the matchday experience and the positive response from fans is testament to that,” says Ed Guichard, Norwich City’s Head of Marketing. “The screen’s ability to revolve creates incredible impact, and it’s already become a focal point through which we can drive conversations with fans ―so much so that they’ve already given the screen its own name created a song, and set up two Twitter accounts dedicated to it.”
The new display screen is part of a wider audiovisual makeover at Carrow Road undertaken by the club’s exclusive advertising agency, Lagardere Sports. It includes the installation of a new, higher resolution perimeter screen system thatfeatures easily replaceable content specific to the event the venue is hosting. A new network of smaller concourse and hospitality displays serve to complete the digital experience and engage fans throughout the stadium.
Delivering Crystal Clear Audio for Entertainment and Information
When the owners of Poland’s Śląski Stadium decided to renovate and reinvigorate the country’s most famous sports venue, they wanted the aural experience to be on-par with the rest of the renovation. Acknowledging that a higher-energy, higher-impact stadium experience requires a crisp, clear sound system, they implemented a design that uses more than 400 speakers in eight zones to deliver audio that is louder than crowd noise.
In addition to the main stadium systems, Śląski also features 80 speakers on pillars that surround the outside of the facility, with 40 directed to a gallery area and the other 40 serving the area between the stadium and a perimeter fence. Public areas just beyond the perimeter fence are covered by an additional 108 wall-mounted speakers, providing entertainment to fans unable to attend the day’s match.
In addition to improving the fan experience, the audio system also enhances safety by integrating with the stadium’s security technology, which enables the warning system to take priority and use the sound system for efficient crowd control and evacuation in case of an emergency.
Promoting Team Brands and Fandom
The fan experience is paramount in all stadia, and leading organizations are creating team-branded technology spaces that grab attention, explore team history, motivate purchases, and provide immersive experiences to complement gameday action.
The University of Michigan’s Crisler Center, where the Wolverines basketball teams play their home games, is a prime example of how AV technologies can promote and preserve a brand while generating enthusiasm among new fans. Using any of the center’s 17 46-inch LCD touchscreen displays, known as Individual Sports Interactives, fans can explore photos, videos and text related to the school’s sports programs, view stats from recent games, and even purchase tickets. A separate 55-inch LCD touchscreen display greets fans with “The House That Cazzie Built,” a story about guard Cazzie Russell, who led the Wolverines to three consecutive Big Ten Conference basketball titles and two NCAA Final Four appearances.
Additional displays provide Kids’ Zone Interactives where young fans can create a customized Michigan bobblehead photo or compare their jumping ability or wingspan with that of a Michigan player. Finally, a pair of 5×3 touchscreen LCD video walls in Crisler’s Hall of Honor function as interactive digital libraries of Michigan’s storied athletic history. Each wall offers touch access for up to five fans simultaneously, so they can look up player profiles, titles, awards won, historic game images, and film footage.
Enhancing the Fan Experience with Immersive Retail
A new way that stadia are enticing fans to explore the venue and encourage purchases is through immersive retail experiences using modern AV technologies. As a result, the “fan superstore” model is replacing the old style of pop-up merchandise stands and delivering far more entertainment than the average retail store. After the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, their firstin more than 100 years, sales of Cubs-branded merchandise went through the roof, and the team was hard-pressed to keep up with demand. As a result, a new 780-square-metre flagship Cubs store was constructed just outside the stadium. When fans enter the store, one of the first things they see is a huge 4×4 panel LCD video wall mounted above the main stairway that shows live game coverage, ESPN analysis and other baseball and Cubs-related content.
The club also features an augmented-reality green-screen attraction that allows fans to take a photo and overlay it on a variety of famous Wrigley Field scenes, including a view from behind home plate, inside the manual scoreboard and in the ivy on the outfield wall. In its first season of operation, fans took morethan 20,000 Wrigley Field “selfies” in the new team store.Stadia across the world are investing in new AV technologies to captivate their fans and deliver gameday experiences that can’t be replicated at home or in pubs.
Modern fans want to see their favourite players in person, but they also want to be entertained at every step. By integrating the latest technologies into every part of the stadium, including audio systems that can overwhelm enormous crowds and touchscreens that help venues sell merchandise and encourage lifelong fandom, it’s clear the future of the sports stadia experience will increasingly focus on leveraging technology to directly connect with fans.
Author: Brad Grimes, AVIXA
About the Author: Brad Grimes is Senior Director of Communications for AVIXA™, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. AVIXA represents the $186 billion global commercial AV industry and produces InfoComm trade shows around the world. For more information, visit www.avixa.org/sportsAV.
AVIXA is joining TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Summit 2019 as Partners and will be at Wembley in November. Want to come along? Let us know.